Have you ever wanted to visit Costa Rica? Some have said that Costa Rica is the Switzerland of Central America. Those who have had the opportunity to visit the country have said that it is very beautiful and worth the visit. Most tourists usually stay in their hotels and visit tourist's attractions like the beaches and the volcanoes. There is more to Costa Rica than just getting a tan in the numerous beaches scattered all over the country. There is more to life in Costa Rica than getting watching the sun set on the horizon and going for a walk on the sea side. You will say that is what tourists do. A lot tourists want to get away from their daily routine; they want to do something different; they want change. Well, change is what Costa Rica offers. There are tourists who have been enchanted by Costa Rica and have decided to come back and stay for a little longer. However, not many tourists can afford to stay for several months in a hotel. That is when renting an apartment or a little house can be interesting. How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica? The correct answer to this will depend on your budget and your lifestyle. This guide should give you an idea of what to expect if you want to live in Costa Rica for several months on the cheaper side.
Housing: You can rent an unfurnished house for as little as $100 per month. You are think that is so cheap. It is cheap if you were to compare that to what that same house will cost you in Europe or in the United States. That being said, the construction standards are not the same. In areas where a lot of expats live, you will expect to pay more than $500. Location is the key to living cheap in Costa Rica. For example, if you choose to live in the capital, San Jose, expect to pay more. In places like San Ignacio de Acosta which is about one hour away from the center of San Jose, you can rent for less. San Ignacio is in the mountains and has a small shopping center. If you like the trappings of big cities like San Jose, then, San Ignacio de Acosta will not fulfill your needs. Basically, the further from the center, the cheaper you can get an adequate accommodation. There are other locations outside of San Jose that are just as expensive as living in New York.
Food: Shopping for food is cheaper in the capital San Jose. You can get everything you want in big American style supermarkets like Hypermas and Megasuper. However, you will have more temptations and will spend a lot more if you live in San Jose. If you want to live like the Ticos, you must be willing to eat rice and beans on a daily basis. That will really put you to the test.
The colones is about 550 to the $1. Most of the food you will buy will be under 5 dollars.
Three Big Mangos â€“ 1000 colones
Casados (typical meal with rice, beans, fried plantains, salads, fried chicken and drinks) â€“ 2000 colones
3 kilos of tomatoes â€“ 1000 colones
1 kilo Strawberry â€“ 1000 colones
3 big pineapples â€“ 1000 colones
Single Banana â€“ 20 colones
1 kilo of Sugar â€“ 1000 colones
1.5 litre of Coca Cola - 600 colones
1 liter of milk â€“ 600 colones
1 kilo minced meat â€“ 3000 colones
1 kilo rice â€“ 900 colones
1 kilo chicken â€“ 1900 colones
75cl of pure honey â€“ 3000 colones
Furnishing: You will also need to furnish your apartment. You could buy second hand equipments. A king size bed will set you back about 100 thousand colones. The word king size is different in Costa Rica because people are not very tall like in the United States. You can get a second hand fridge, microwave and washing machine for about 100 thousand colones. That is about 180 dollars. You will obviously have to shop around and get a local friend to help negotiate the price. Dining table with 4 chairs will cost you about 50000-100000 colones
Transportation: If you want to buy a used car, you can get one for about $2000 or less. There are more expensive cars but if you are planning on going cheap, at least you know it is possible to buy a cheap car. Public transportation is also an option. If you live in San Jose, there are buses to different destinations in the country. You pay as little as 600 colones or about 1 dollar on public transport within San Jose. There are also taxis available that will cost you an average of 1000 colones or 2 dollars per trip within the center of San Jose.
Telephone and Internet: Internet is available in most locations in Costa Rica. Telephone and internet will cost you about 20.000 colones. That is about 40 to 50 dollars per month. If you don't make long distance call you should be within that limit.
Water: Water is relatively cheap and will set you back about 3000 colones or 6 dollars per month. You can drink tap water in most places in Costa Rica. If you are not sure and don't feel safe, you can buy bottled water. It could be as much as 10 dollars per month if you have the tendency to stay forever under the shower.
Electricity: Electricity is not too expensive and you will expect to pay less than 10 dollars per month. Those who have air conditioning or huge freezers pay more.
Heated Shower: Depending on where you live in Costa Rica, you will not need heated water. There is a shower that is commonly used in Costa Rica that does not require the use of a boiler tank like those used in Europe. These heated showers are directly fitted onto the top of the shower and connected to electricity. It heats the water as soon as you turn on the tap. These heated showers are handy if you live in the mountains or in the Central valley, around San Jose. It can get a little chilly in the mornings. It will cost you about 20 thousand colones to buy the little shower. That is about 40 dollars. If you live in the north, the Guanacaste region, you might not need the shower. It can get very hot in that part of Costa Rica. The same thing goes for the Puntarenas region. It is always very hot and humid. You will not need heated water in your shower.